I actually had a hard time thinking about what new feature to write about. I was going to talk about the already wildly popular Quick Product Create, but Patrick beat me to it on our regular blog. And who knows, maybe I’ll delve deeper into that on a later post.
So what I bring you today is an improvement to our embroidery offering…DST uploads and a colorizing user interface!
Ok, back up. What is a DST and what’s this colorizing thingy? Let me explain…
Embroidery requires images called “stitch files” that contain information about when to change thread colors and how to physically stitch a design. Our embroidery machines take these files and know how to sew it onto a product.
Up until now, we’ve used stitch files that contain all that information as well as what color threads to use. To convert a JPG or bitmap image to one of these stitch files, you need a professional conversion done (commonly known as “digitization”).
DST files are stitch files, but they are lacking one key piece of information we need: color data. Without knowing what color thread to use during a thread change, it’s rather difficult to make it look right. The good thing about DST files, however, is that they are a very common embroidery format with a large supporting community of embroidery experts all over that there Interweb :-)
Red and yellow and pink and green…
We knew we wanted to support this common format, but we had to build a way for users to tell us what colors to use for each thread change in the file. Enter the colorizing UI (insert dramatic music here)!
When a user uploads a DST file, Zazzle chooses default colors for each thread change in the file…just so it contains something. The results are usually less than optimal. But by going to My Zazzle –> My Images and clicking on the image, there is a link to re-color the file:
Clicking that link brings up the colorizing UI:
The colorizing dialog shows the original stitch file image with the default colors on the left, and a set of color swatches on the right. Each color swatch represents a thread change in the stitch file. It is not uncommon for a stitch file to have multiple thread changes using the same color as a previous thread change. In other words, it is possible to assign duplicate colors to different swatches.
Clicking on a swatch brings up a palette of possible colors. These colors represent the thread spools our machines have access to.
Keep in mind that each image can only have a total of 10 colors including black and white.
So at this point, all you have to do is click each swatch and choose the appropriate color. The image updates in real time. Here’s how this file looks after some tweaks…
Much better! When finished, just click “Create copy with these colors” to create a copy of this stitch file. Every time you modify the colors of a stitch file, a new file gets created in My Images. This way you can have multiple colorized versions of the same design!
This process is not limited to newly uploaded DST files. If you’ve already had some of your existing designs converted for embroidery, you can also re-color those as well without having to pay for a second conversion!